Can This Marriage Be Saved? We Became Parents and Fell Out of Love

September 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm , by

A death in the family could easily put a new relationship on the fast-track. Add becoming parents into the mix you’d hardly recognize your own life. Alison, 31, and Trevor, 35, had only been dating eight months when his sister, Yvette, was killed and they were left to raise Yvette’s four-year-old son, Donovan. Years later, they’re still overwhelmed with grief and the parental learning curve, creating a schism that has each questioning their relationship—big time. Read the full story in our October issue, on newsstands now.

Alison’s turn: After Yvette died, Alison immediately stepped up to be a mother to Donovan, but feels like Trevor isn’t even trying. She knows he’s grieving, but can’t understand why he isn’t acting a like a father figure for his nephew, who desperately needs love as well as discipline. Trevor won’t even talk about Yvette and his pain, and Alison feels abandoned. She’d rather spend time with friends, they never have sex, and she feels like taking on the role of Donovan’s mom without Trevor’s support has left her lost. She won’t leave Donovan without a mom again, and that’s the only reason she wants to stay in her marriage.

Trevor’s turn: Yvette’s death crushed him—she was his closest friend. He wishes he could be as close to Donovan as Alison (and knows he’s lucky Alison’s there for his nephew), but one look at them playing together and all he can think of is his dead sister. Unlike Alison, he’s a laid back, deal-with-it-later kind of guy and feels attacked when she pushes him to talk about his grief. He doesn’t feel comfortable talking about personal stuff before he’s ready, and Yvette was the only one he trusted because she didn’t push. And don’t get him started on Alison’s demands that he help more with household chores. He’ll pitch in when asked, but stonewalls when Alison picks these little fights as a way to channel her anger at him for how he’s been acting. Still, he thinks that because they’ve been through so much, maybe they still have a shot at making it work.

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? My Infertility Is Ruining Our Marriage

August 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm , by

l_101756380Even the strongest of marriages can be tested by the wild ups and downs of infertility. Didi, a 37-year-old sales rep, who has been married to husband Mark, 35, for three years, was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and is unable to have kids as a result. The couple desperately want a baby, but they can’t even discuss their options without a meltdown. (Read the full article in this month’s issue of LHJ, and here.)

Didi’s turn She is absolutely devastated that she can’t bear a child, and Mark makes her feel worse about it. He suggests using donor eggs like it’s no big deal, but it’s a big deal to Didi that she’d be carrying a child that’s not biologically her own. Plus, if something were to happen and she miscarried with a donor egg, she’d feel like a double failure. And she thinks he’s a class-A jerk to not even consider adoption as an option. The other issue is that Didi is East Indian, and donor eggs from that background are tough to find – not to mention expensive. With adoption, at least there’s a guarantee you’ll have a baby, but there’s no guarantee with IVF. She can’t understand why her husband is so concerned with passing on his genes and hates that he doesn’t acknowledge that Didi is grieving the loss of that chance for herself.

Mark’s turn He thinks acknowledging his wife’s infertility is dwelling on something they can’t change, so he doesn’t like to talk about the problem. He hates seeing her so upset all the time and thinks his encouragement to try a donor egg is a way to focus on the positive. Adoption terrifies him because of the horror stories he’s heard about kids hating their adoptive parents or biological parents coming back to claim their children years later. He’s also worried that he won’t love an adopted child as much as a biological one, and he resents Didi for telling him it’s ridiculous that he feels that way; she complains that he dismisses her feelings but she doesn’t realize she does the same thing. And life’s short – why not risk IVF and if it doesn’t work, use adoption as a backup option? He doesn’t think it’s fair he has to give up on his chance to be a father just because she can’t be a biological mother.

The counselor’s turn There are no easy answers in the IVF-versus-adoption debate, and many couples have the same issues that Didi and Mark are confronting. Didi’s emotional ups and downs and Mark’s temper were an issue, so they took steps recommended by the counselor to manage their feelings better (read more here). The counselor suspected Mark’s anger may be masking depression, so he visited a psychiatrist, who confirmed the diagnosis and put him on antidepressants, which helped his mood immensely. The couple had to take the time to mourn their loss and acknowledge that they’d never have a biological child together, and their pattern of ignoring the issue just kept them mired in it. They had serious questions to consider: Would Didi regret not attempting to carry a baby? Would she feel guilty she denied Mark the chance to be a father? Would Mark resent Didi if she refused to try IVF? After nine months of discussion, they reached an agreement: They would try to find an Indian egg donor but if they couldn’t, they’d adopt. They searched and searched and eventually did find a donor who looked a lot like Didi, but the woman changed her mind and Didi and Mark were crushed. That was the catalyst for their ultimate decision to adopt a child from India. They’ll travel to meet 18-month-old Nikel next month and bring him home to their family.

Have you struggled with infertility? Adopted a child? Do you think Didi and Mark made the right decision? Share your thoughts with us below.

Cooking With Your Kids

July 8, 2010 at 9:04 am , by

Sophia - pizzaThere are a few things I’m good at, but cooking is not one of them. So, what do I do with a kid who says she wants to be a chef when she grows up?

Somehow, we manage to have a great time in the kitchen. We wear matching aprons and use princess spatulas. We make a lots of brownies, cookies, and cakes from box mixes. And we spend way too much time on the decorating part—see our Ariel birthday cake for evidence of that. (Another Erneta family fun activity is getting store-bought cookies and decorating them with frosting.)

Recently on a trip to my parents’ house, my mom got a few Boboli pizza crusts and the kids (both of them, the 2yr old included!) had a blast making pizza. Their sense of pride was enormous as everyone complimented the chefs.

I asked our savvy Food Editor, Tara Bench, for some tips on getting your kids in the kitchen and she had lots of great ideas. She told me, “Anything that they can layer or build feels like a big treat for them.” That must be why Sophia loved helping me make lasagna. Tara also recommends sandwiches, tacos and fruit kabobs for more layering fun. Some other great cooking ideas for kids: peanut butter cookies (kids love mixing and they’ll like making marks with a fork), no-bake cheesecake (so fun to press in a graham cracker crust),  and easy drop cookies. Pancakes and puddings can be fun too—just reserve the hot stove part for bigger kids only. Happy cooking!

So, tell me: What do you cook with your kids?

Do Good: 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve

December 14, 2009 at 10:56 am , by

51Dm5fyN7hL._SL500_Here at LHJ we think one of the most powerful ways to make our world a better place is to teach our kids to give back. Helping children learn why it’s important to care about the people and world around them—and giving them the tools to help out in their communities—is one of the best ways to spark change (and raise really good kids while you’re at it!). That’s why we really like 18-year-old Sondra Clark’s book, 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve. It’s geared toward tweens and gives great suggestions for kids with different interests and hobbies—projects with animals, ideas for crafty kids, eco suggestions and lots more.

Sondra knows her stuff: She’s the daughter of do-gooder and speaker Silvana Clark, and has taught crafts in Africa, served breakfast to needy kids in Peru, and distributed shoes in Guatemala. Pretty impressive, right?

You’ll find ideas to get any kid excited about giving back: Animal lovers can collect old tennis balls to entertain dogs in animal shelters. Little foodies can bake goodies for the Great American Bake Sale. Have a tech-genius? She can teach senior citizens how to use the computer. Many of the ideas would be great to do as a family too.

What about you–do you volunteer or do projects to give back as a family? Have you tried to get your kids interested in giving back?